San Francisco Public School Students Receive $11 Million in College Savings, More for California Students

SAN FRANCISCO – At San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday “]17 Bryant Elementary School first graders contribute $11 million to a college savings fund that will help every public school student get a financial head start on higher education spending.

The youth were joined by Gov. Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Breed, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, and City Treasurer Jose Cisneros, who explained how the money would help them get into college.

“Who’s going to college here?” Cisneros asked the children stretched out on the carpeted floor in the Rotunda.

“I’m not going to college,” one boy blurted out.

“We’ll talk about that later,” Cisneros replied. Without a doubt.

Cisneros and other state leaders have a common goal: they want to give all students an equal chance at higher education. The gathering was part of a celebration and announcement that San Francisco has now raised $11 million to fund college savings for public school children.

Breed said Tuesday that San Francisco students are not the only ones in California who will be able to pay for extremely expensive college applications and tuition if they decide to graduate. Los Angeles Unified recently launched a program that gives every first grader a $50 college savings account.

Newsom and Cisneros founded the San Francisco program in 2011, when Newsom was mayor, by promising to contribute $50 to each kindergartener’s account. Since then, Newsom and his administration launched CalKids, a nationwide program that aims to put kids, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, on the path to college from an early age. The program will be available regardless of immigration status.

The state’s investment includes $170 million for incoming and eligible first graders. All children born in the state after July 1 will have savings accounts, Newsom said. Each newborn will receive a $25 base deposit and can receive up to $75 extra for signing up for an online account.

In July, all students in grades 1-12 will open savings accounts in their own name, with low-income students receiving $500, foster children or homeless youth receiving another $500, up to $1,500 if they choose to go to college in the future.

The first set of accounts is expected to open to about 3.5 million students this year, with roughly 300,000 students added each year thereafter, said Danella Debel, a spokeswoman for Gov. Newsom’s office.